Society of African Journal Editors

South African Journal of Sociology

Sociology beyond despair: Recovery of nerve, endogeneity, and epistemic intervention

Authors: Jìmí O. Adésínà

Journal: South African Journal of Sociology

Sociology as a scholarly vocation within the university in South Africa is bedevilled with the claims of its demise. Both the discipline and a cross-section of its practitioners seem beset with ‘status anxiety’ and what I call ‘status ambiguity’ In this presidential address, delivered to the 2005 Congress of the South African Sociological Association (SASA), I examine these claims. The paper examines the sources of the anxiety. It argues that the claims of sociology's death are grossly exaggerated, as Mark Twain might have put it. I argue that if we were to operate on a wider canvas we might have persuaded ourselves to the position that the ebbs and flows in a discipline like sociology are not evidence of ‘death’, ‘fall’ or whatever else we might want to call it; it is not even an evidence of a discipline that is yet to attain maturity. The key to doing ‘sociology beyond despair’ and the recovery of disciplinary nerve requires a commitment to endogeneity, with a distinct commitment to epistemic intervention in global sociology; it requires us to take our locales seriously; it requires us to take ourselves seriously.